Being an Indie Publisher ain't
It's not a way to get rich, and it's really not even a way to
break even. Maybe everyone has a different reason why they would start
publishing comics independently, but my reason is pretty simple. I just
have to. I drew my first comic book on notebook paper with colored pencils
in 1987 when I was 10 years old. And it sucked. Thankfully, my comics
improved (slowly) over the following 10 or so years. I started publishing
my comics in 2001. I love writing comics, and I'm getting more and more
into developing my style of art as well.
Indie publishers have to
balance all the same facets of life as anyone else (day job, chores,
personal life, etc) but we also have to find the time to squeeze in all
the duties of publishing that are usually done by a TEAM of paid comic
professionals (writing, drawing, lettering, web design, promoting, etc).
Sometimes you just want to relax. Sometimes you do that a little more
often than you should. Sometimes a LOT more.
So on May 16, 2007, I decided
to make a stand. I decided to try to do SOMETHING comic related EVERY DAY.
I do have some rules, which
are pretty loose and apt to change. I started this web log on July
1st 2007, and so far I HAVE done something for my comics every day. I
don't know how long it can last, but I'm going to try.
decided to chronicle my daily comic tasks right here for our readers, to
give them a peek into the creative steps and behind-the-scenes processes
that bring these stories to the page. Enjoy :)
-Jay W. Davis, One Shot
Previous Blogs: [Jul-Dec
2007] - [Jan-Jun
2008] - [Jul-Dec
2008] - [Jan-Jun
2009] - [Jul-Dec
2010] - [Jul-Dec
2010] - [Jan-Jun 2011] - [Jul-Dec 2011] -[Jan-Jun 2012]
Tonight, I drew a couple of sketches of the new waterfall
/ shower area for the elf village. Again, I tried to look up some real
life visual reference on the internet, but couldn't find anything
comparable to what was in my head. The sketches I did were quite crude,
but one of them got the idea across (I think). I cropped and prepped this
image and the one from yesterday, and sent them both to Curtis via
While talking with Curtis yesterday, I suggested that
male elves wear pants that can be converted into shorts. I'm pretty sure
I've seen this in real life. With a small strap sewn inside the pant leg,
the pants could be pulled up to the knee and then fastened with a button.
I tried to look up this sort of attire on the internet, but all I could
find were these really ugly pants that had zippers to remove the bottom
parts. Without any real life visual reference for this article of
clothing, I drew a sketch of two elves wearing the garment as I envisioned
Curtis and I had a long conversation tonight about the
new script. In particular, we were both concerned about the "waterfall
shower" area of the village. At first I suggested a rather contrived
"water slide" made of wood, which would deliver the water to the showering
platform. After some discussion, I realized that it would be better to
have a natural rock formation that would take the force of the waterfall
and redirect it safely to the platform. The elves would have built their
platform to take advantage of this natural formation, rather than building
a complicated delivery system. Later, I prepped a few sketches of the elf
village platforms and homes.
I'm still stuck on getting this visual reference material
ready. Tonight, I prepped more sketches from Curtis. These included a
couple of pages with multiple female elf outfits, and one featuring
multiple male designs.
More of the same. I cropped and added notes to a few more
pieces of visual reference. In particular, I prepared a sketch of mine
showing Kira in her formal / festival attire. After that, I prepped three
pages filled with various sketches of the monster, all drawn by Curtis
Guess what? Yup, more digital visual reference. Tonight I
did quite a few, preparing three sketches of the strange little "silker"
animals that live in the elf village. I also created a single image of
possible elf body art, combining three different sketches onto one image.
For one of these, I digitally erased a crappy design from an elf girl's
leg and replaced it with a different design that had been drawn
separately. I also fixed up one male elf image and some sketches of
Ningai's hair pulled up into a ponytail.
More visual reference prep work. I cropped and added
notes for two more elf women designs. I also prepared images of gojinn's
new cape / shoulder garment, Luria's hairstyle, and Hanta's chest hair.
Yes, Hanta's chest hair.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2012
photoediting prep work for the visual reference stuff. I fixed up a
couple of the images of female elf clothing, the special fruit shown in
the issue, and the wooden armband worn by all the elves.
For the visual reference pages, I scanned a bunch of my
"MotJ: Prey" sketch work. Once these were in digital form, I started
cropping the pages and adding text notes in the margins around the
sketches. I did this for the elf boy, and quite a few drawings of the
I started creating the artist reference web pages for
"Mark of the Jinn: Prey." These pages are to be posted on my
"drawthiscomic.com" website, and contain the script and visual references
for the story. To my surprise, I had already created five web pages for
this book, one for each chapter. Those were the old script, though, and
had to be changed to contain the new script.
Tonight I drew a sketch of Luria, as I am trying to
finalize her attire. In this sketch, I've drawn long, flowy pants on her.
I think I want the elves to show much more skin, so these pants aren't
working for me. The top looks great though, which has a single sleeve, and
a shoulder strap on the opposite side. I really like the way that looks,
but I think it will be better paired with a long elf-like skirt that shows
lots of leg and hip on the sides.
Today was a very busy day, and I just had time to squeeze
in a sketch. I drew Ningai, and tried to focus on the cloth wrapping I've
added to his character design. It didn't turn out that great. I think I
drew it too realistically, when in my mind I see it as something bulky
around his wrist and forearm.
I proof read the entire script, and I'm quite happy with
it. I did more copy editing along the way, mostly in chapters three, four,
and five. After that, I worte some notes about all the visual reference
I'll have to prepare for the artists on this project. There's a lot more
of that for this project, because the elf village has so many specific
visual design elements that are new to the series.
SIXTY TWO months now, I've been doing something for my
comics everyday. Today is also my birthday, and I was quite busy with my
family today. At the end of the day, I decided to draw some sketches of
Gojinn, wearing a hood. Some of the human characters will wear hoods in an
attempt to hide from prying eyes in future story arcs. I drew three
sketches of Gojinn in this outfit, which is basically a hooded version of
the parka / shoulder garment he gets in "MotJ: Prey." One of these
sketches turned out pretty good, but the others weren't much to look
I saw a picture of an elf with a decorative woven
headband. The headband was decorated with some large flowers that
were attached near the back of the elf girl's head. I really liked the
design, and I'm not sure why I haven't drawn anything like these for the
elves in the next "Mark of the Jinn" story. I've seen this sort of thing
plenty of times, and I even drew organic arm jewelry for the elves. Just
no headbands until now. I drew about four sketches on a sheet, but none of
them turned out very well. This is the sort of thing that I can describe
to Curtis Rhodes, and he will illustrate it better than I could hope
Just some minor work on the "Mark of the Jinn: Prey"
script. I did some copy editing, and changed a few words around here and
there. I did this for about half of the script. I also changed all the
instances of "Panel x" to the appropriate panel numbers, mostly for the
At first, I thought I would need to write all new
narration for chapter five. Looking at the old script, I deleted all the
panel descriptions and just read the lines of narrative left behind. I
really liked what was already there. As an experiment, I tried to slip the
existing narrative alongside the new panels I've been writing. To my
surprise, it worked very well. I like using a comic writing technique
where the narrative is telling one story, while the visuals are showing
stuff that aren't exactly related to it (see my webcomics
"Ichiru's Poem" or "Stoic Memories" for examples). Since this is how the
original narrative was written, it really didn't matter that the panel
descriptions were new. I still cut out a few lines that I deemed
superfluous. I also had to group some lines in pairs, as there wasn't an
exact 1 to 1 ratio of lines to panels. Some panels ended up with two lines
of narrative, which is fine. I'm really happy with the end result, and
even more excited that the creative part of script writing is
The next two pages of chapter five are the last two of
the story, and I've finished writing panel descriptions for them. That
makes the story come out to twenty seven pages total. Page twenty six
starts with a couple of new panels that I hadn't thought of before. The
rest of page twenty six shows Gojinn using the wood-shaping tool I
researched a few days ago. Twenty seven is much closer to the original,
but I've still rewritten the panel descriptions to fit better with all the
other new stuff I wrote for this last chapter.
I've written panel descriptions for then next page of
chapter five (MotJ: Prey). I'm moving away from what I did with the first
script, here. The overall ideas are the same, but the small moments from
panel to panel are different. I'm not writing any narration or dialogue
for these panels yet.
I think I've finished writing the first page of chapter
five (MotJ: Prey). I've added a panel at the beginning that shows Ningai
dragging a tree. In the previous script, it seemed like Ningai was just
"supervising" work and not actually doing anything himself. This way, we
clearly see that Ningai is pitching in and doing his part. I also cut down
a scene where a young elf speaks before an older elf chases him away. The
moment is still there, but I've edited down to happen quicker since it's
not very important.
I was making some changes throughout chapter five, when I
thought of a change I wanted to make. In the original, Gojinn was using
his super strength to carry or drag some timber. As he is a skilled
weaponsmith, dragging timber isn't the right job for him. Instead, he
should be shaping the timber into useful lumber. With this realization,
I drew a few sketches of Gojinn using a primitive "plane" tool to
shape the wood.
Though I've re-written the script from scratch (Mark of
the Jinn: Prey), it still ends the same way. So I've decided to use some
of what I've written for chapter five from the previous script. There's
some of it that I don't like, such as some sarcastic comments from Kira.
I'd rather she remain quiet and scary, rather than loud. There are some
other things I'll change too, but I'm going to use the existing chapter
five script as a backbone. I copied the complete chapter into my new
script, and I'm editing it accordingly. It's a bit of a mess right now.
I'm breaking down pages / panel groupings, and deleting some of the stuff
I don't like. This may be a bad idea, as it might be easier to just
rewrite this chapter instead :)
I thought I may work on chapter five tonight, but I'm not
quite ready for that. Instead, I wrote notes about specific visual points
I wanted to hit during the chapter. I already had a clear picture in mind
for some of these, but I came up with some new ones as well (like two elf
kids pretending to sword fight in the background). I also went through the
first four chapters for a little clean up. For instance, I always type
panel descriptions starting with "Panel x," since I don't always know what
the panel number will be. I move panels around, regroup pages, combine or
eliminate panels. For that reason, it could get really confusing to number
a panel and then end up missing a number or listing two panels with the
same number on one page. Now that the first four chapters are good to go,
I went through and changed all the "x" placeholders to their appropriate
Looking back over what I've done so far, I realize that I
left chapter three in a mess. There's a lot of writing for it,
including narration, dialogue, and panel descriptions. A lot of it is just
"loose" though, where dialogue isn't attached to a particular panel or
vice versa. I took time tonight to clean all that up. Now chapter three is
a cohesive chapter. I've rearranged some of my page breaks too, which
groups the panels a little differently. There's a LOT going on in this
chapter, and it ended up being eight pages. This is much longer than I
shoot for in these MotJ chapters, but the content of this one dictated the
length. There's no reason to break this one into a couple of four page
chapters, as it really is one long scene (even though the location moves a
bit during it). I only cut out or combined panels in a couple of places,
mostly to keep certain pages from getting too cluttered. All in all, this
is an important chapter that sets up the climax of the story. It's going
to end up being a lot more work for one artist than the other chapters I'm
I finished the rest of writing chapter four, which mostly
consisted of adding narration or dialogue to the panel descriptions. This
chapter is short, and really gets to the point in a hurry! I like the fast
pace, though, and I'm really happy with the content here.
I've written an ending for chapter four (Mark of the
Jinn: Prey). I wrote panel descriptions mostly, so there's still more work
to be done on the chapter. It looks like it will be five pages, which is
pretty short for an action-based chapter.
I finished writing page three, and wrote all the panel
descriptions for page four. I wrote some narration for page four also, but
I haven't finished matching up the words with the panels yet. I wrote a
single panel description for the first panel on page five. It's pretty
much the final action panel of the story. Everything else is cooldown (or
"falling action & resolution" if you prefer).
I added some narration to chapter four, page two. I also
wrote narration and panel descriptions for most of page three.
I'm not sure if I'll take up drawing duties on "Mark of
the Jinn: Prey," but I'd like to be prepared just in case. To that end, I
filled a page with sketches of the dino-like monster from the story. I
drew some full body sketches, and some head shots. I also drew a
small group of these creatures, though there is only one featured in the
story. Elsewhere in the fictional world, they may exist in family
Just enough work tonight to get by. I wrote panel
descriptions for about five panels, which will likely make up page two of
chapter four. I'm following my recent thoughts of "jump right into the
action" rather than building it up with running & chasing.
Continuing with chapter four, I only did a little writing
tonight. I described the action elements for the most part, and elected to
jump right into those parts rather than build with more chasing. It seems
like every "Mark of the Jinn" story has so much chasing and running in it.
Enough already! So there's running and chasing here, but there are other
things happening that are really the focus. Also, I described a scene in
which we see Kira in the woods. She's standing still in a small clearing,
waiting for her chance to unleash some violence. She's standing like a
ninja or samurai, with her head tilted down slightly. The scene was so
awesome in my head, that I couldn't stop smiling as I was writing it
I started writing chapter four this afternoon. I started
with some notes about what I want from this chapter, then moved on to the
opening narration. There's a scene where Ningai wraps a cloth around his
hand, which I was sure to get to by the end of the first page.
I did a little more work on chapter three. At this point,
it's mostly tweaking the narration and dialogue to fit the characters and
tone of the story. I've also added some more panel descriptions. This
chapter's looking pretty much done now. Next up is the action
I've done a little more refining & revising tonight.
I've grouped some lines of dialogue into single panels, and written panel
I wrote a scene for chapter three that involves Ningai
and Kira. It was fun to write this part, since Kira is so angry and rude.
This also brings the third chapter to a close. I still have a lot of work
to do on it, but my framework is pretty much in place.
Mostly rewrites and some editing on what I've got so far
on chapter three (MotJ: Prey). I worked a bit more on the interaction
between Ningai and Luria.
On a roll tonight, I wrote about eighteen or
nineteen panels worth of dialogue. That will likely equal out to three
page of script. I can't tell for sure yet how many panels, because I only
focused on the back and forth dialogue here. I'll have to group these bits
of dialogue later. Normally, two (maybe three) lines will fit comfortably
within each panel. More than that, and you'll end up with word balloons
that cover all the art in a panel. This section is turning out quite well,
but still needs to be fleshed out a bit more. I'm really liking it so
I wrote a little more than a page of script for
chapter three. I didn't bother to add any narration yet, but I will later.
For now, I focused on the visuals I wanted to show during the elf
I finished segmenting the rest of chapter two's panels
into three pages (Mark of the Jinn: Prey). I moved the shower scene to the
first page of chapter three, then wrote a paragraph describing what else I
want out of chapter three. Everything is coming together nicely now, after
such a struggle with the first two chapters. At first I had all the points
I wanted to get into the story, but I wasn't sure what order they would
fit in the story. It's a bit like a puzzle that way. I had all these
pieces, more than enough to complete the puzzle. After fitting together a
framework of edge pieces, it's easier to see which pieces will complete
the puzzle and which ones to discard (for now).
I drew a couple of sketches of a beast for the "Mark of
the Jinn" world. It's a large creature, domesticated for transport. The
beast has a couple of large horns that run parallel to its jaw on each
side. I like it, but I'm not sure when or where it will fit into a
I separated and arranged the panels for the first three
pages of chapter two. Not much changed today, though I did combine a
couple of panels on page three. This condensed page three down a bit,
which ends the scene nicely before the transition on the next
After thinking about the festival that takes place in the
elf village (Mark of the Jinn: Prey), I realized that I wanted the elves
to have an elegant sort of glass to drink from. Originally, I thought they
would drink from small wooden bowls. That's fine for everyday use, but not
formal enough for the festival. I drew a few sketches of possible organic
vessels. The one I like best is similar to that of a carnivorous pitcher
plant. It look similar to a champagne flute, which has a much more formal
aesthetic than a simple bowl.
I just did a little script work on "Mark of the Jinn:
Prey." Based on the amount of panels, it looks like chapter two will end
up being six pages long. I added narration to the last three pages of the
chapter. These narrative captions mainly deal with the conflict between
Ningai's good feelings about his new home versus the lingering questions
about his "mark of the jinn" and why it appeared.
I didn't get to start working on comics until about
11:30pm tonight. At first, I thought I should just draw a sketch instead
of trying to write while feeling sleepy. Once I sat down in front of the
computer, though, I wrote a really nice interaction between Ningai and the
elf boy. It's just the right tone for these characters, and I was able to
fit it into chapter two without forcing it. I also fleshed out a little
more of what we see near the end of chapter two.
MONTH SIXTY ONE now. Tonight, I did some more work on
chapter two. I've added about a page worth of panel descriptions, which
would likely all be on the fourth page of that chapter. This is a very
complicated chapter for me to write. The first three pages have a lot of
narration and then dialogue, while the characters stay in one spot. On the
fourth page, most of the characters move to another area of the elf
village, and we get a small glimpse at the monster below. I also did some
research on old fashioned machines used to make fabrics. In particular,
there is something called a "spinning jenny" which I used as a basis for a
simple machine the elves use to collect silk-like strands used to make
their banners and clothing.
In real life, my wife and I are expecting a child. We
went today for the sonogram, and learned that we are having a baby boy!
What little time I spent on comics today was spent writing notes about
what I want out of the rest of chapter two (after the stuff I wrote
yesterday). I'm going to have the heroes visit the fabric & loom area
of the elf village, as Curtis has put a lot of research and thought into
the way the elves create their silky fabrics. It's really interesting
visually, and I've never seen that kind of thing in a comic before. I
think I'll use the technique of showing all this fabric and loom stuff for
the visuals, while the narration describes thoughts or stories completely
unrelated to the visuals. It's the sort of technique I used in the
webcomic "Stoic Memories," and I like it much better than a bunch of
"talking head" panels for narration or long dialogues.
I worked for an hour and a half on chapter two of "Mark
of the Jinn: Prey." Most of the work today was figuring out what to
include, and what to leave out. The new character, Luria, has SO much
information to share with the heroes. The trouble here is deciding what is
relevant right now, and what can wait for a future story arc. For
instance, Luria explains why humans hide their ears out in the rest of the
world. That's important stuff to our human heroes, but it's not the right
time to share that info. Also, I've cut out all the instances where Luria
says the name of a human that visited the elf village long ago. I remember
putting a lot of time and thought into that character's name, but it's
better left unsaid this time. If someone starts reading the Mark of the
Jinn series by jumping into this volume, there will be enough characters
names to learn without adding the name of a character that doesn't even
make an appearance. After whittling all this info down, I ended up with
about 18 panels worth of narration and dialogue. That works out to about
three pages of script. The most exciting bit here is where Luria explains
the concept of "magic" :)
I've done some rewrites on chapter two today, but I'm
still not sure I've got everything in place. I found a file where I've
already written a script for this story, but I've got mixed feelings about
it. I prefer the completely new version of chapter one, but the old
version contained a nice scene of Luria explaining things about the world.
I'd also like to work in an interaction between Ningai and the elf boy in
chapter two. I'm going to have to work out a way to get to all this stuff
in one chapter.
I wrote a couple pages of chapter two tonight
(MotJ:Prey). After all the thought and attention that Curtis and I put
into the waterfall shower facilities at the elf village, I feel like it
would be an interesting element to include in the story. After showing the
shower area on the first page, Ningai catches up to Gojinn (who hasn't
made an appearance yet in this story).
I let it get to late to work on the script tonight.
Instead, I hammered out a quick sketch of Gojinn in his elf-created
shoulder garment and pants. I experimented with my style a bit here, going
for something a bit rougher than usual.
The first draft of chapter one (MotJ:Prey) is now
complete. On page four, I've added a short scene in which the young elf
boy balances precariously on a railing. Since the entire village is up in
the treetops, this is something he probably shouldn't be doing. Nothing
big happens here, but this scene will work well with something that
happens much later in the story. At first, I felt like I should work all
four heroes into this opening scene, but that's not really necessary.
Ningai is the narrator this time, so really this first chapter is all
about him and his thoughts. There will be time to introduce the two other
main heroes (Gojinn & Hanta) in the next chapter.
I was able to fit the "Kira snubs Ningai" scene onto to
page three of "MotJ: Prey." It works better on page three. Page two was
the first page that the narrative really focuses on the elf people.
Showing Kira would make new readers think she was an elf (even though her
ears aren't pointy). Here, Ningai makes a reference to the heroes'
original home, so it works much better that Kira makes an appearance
during these captions.
Instead of working on the story and script today, I
sketched a scene from "Mark of the Jinn: Prey." The sketch shows Ningai at
the end of a walkway, leaning his forearms on the railing. The sketch
didn't turn out well, but it will serve as visual reference for the artist
illustrating chapter one.
I moved on to the second page of panel descriptions,
matching them with the dialogue from a few days ago. Like everything on
this first chapter, I struggled a bit with it. I really wanted to show
Kira in on this page, as she gives an ugly look toward Ningai before
walking away. It just didn't work on this page. I plan to use that
somewhere else in chapter one, but it just didn't fit the narrative here.
On this page, I focused on the elf people, their village, and the
walkways. It's mostly visual exposition so the reader will understand the
environment without having to be shown a big complicated view of the
village in each chapter.
I've decided to work out some of the panel descriptions
now, rather than wait until all chapter narration/dialogue is finished.
The reason is that I want a clear picture in my head of what I've shown of
the elf village and monster. To do that, I need to know what chapter one
will look like. I've scripted out the first page of panel descriptions,
matching them to the narration I wrote a few days ago for page
The narration here is proving difficult to write. I'm
still happy with what's coming forth so far, but it's been a struggle to
get the words how I want them. There is so much Ningai could say about
their arrival on this island, the monster that nearly ate them, and he
could speak volumes about the elf culture he's observed so far. The trick
is the narrow down his narration to only the necessary parts for story
exposition. I think I've finished the narration for this first chapter
now. The monster gets mentioned in two separate places here, which I like.
Throughout the story, the monster is a constant factor that looms in the
background. Mentioning the monster in two different parts of the chapter
one narration serves the same purpose: even when other things are being
discussed, the monster still pops up in that monologue.
I wrote a little more narration for the first chapter of
"Mark of the Jinn: Prey." It's coming along slowly compared to the other
story arcs I've written for MotJ. Still, I like what I've done so far.
Even as I flesh out this chapter, I'm making changes. A couple days ago, I
thought I would show Ningai interacting with an elf boy. The little elf is
fascinate by the heroes, particularly Ningai. This elf boy becomes
important later in the story, but I decided not to rush this interaction.
Instead, the elf boy will be around in the backgrounds. Instead of
interacting with Ningai here, the elf boy will just follow him around for
Okay, I've solved my problem with this first chapter...
by destroying it :) I realize that no matter what happens in this first
chapter, the beginning is just too close to the beginning of the previous
story. My solution? Skip the beginning. One of my favorite things about
"Mark of the Jinn" is how I just skip some of the boring bits and jump to
the next interesting scene. Surprisingly, there isn't much lost by doing
that. The reader may feel like "whoa, we've jump ahead quite a bit," but I
think that this is a good thing. Instead of boring the reader with too
many transitional scenes, we just skip them. If the characters are walking
in the woods in one scene, then in a boat on the water in the next
scene... you should be able to figure out that they got in a boat. So
I'm skipping the first chapter, and going to where Ningai is already
in the elf village, looking out at the wreckage of their boat. He
describes what happened through narration, so I can still
get some of this expositional information to the reader. I'm
really glad to be skipping the "elf rescue" in chapter one, because
I'm not sure how an artist would have to deal with it in comic form
(vines/ropes thrown to the heroes, then snatched up into the trees).
Realistically, this could be accomplished through the use of counter
weights, which would quickly pull the heroes up to safety (one hero at a
time). Still, I was afraid this would just look goofy or slapstick. By
just describing it through narration, I think it won't come across that
way. The only drag about losing this chapter is the reveal shot of the
monster. I had a really "Jurassic Park-esque" reveal shot planned, as the
heroes discover the monster in the forest. What we'll get instead may be
better though, as I'll show bits and pieces of the monster before
revealing it at the end of chapter one. I've written the narration for
page one tonight.
I've started writing the actual story for "Mark of the
Jinn: Prey." It's from Ningai's narration, which is different from either
of the first two story arcs. I've written more notes about what kind of
things are on Ningai's mind, so he can offer us some insight into his
character through his narration. One thing that's bothering me is that the
first scene of the story has the heroes arriving on a new island, just as
they did in the last story. It's hard to start this story differently,
because these characters basically are doing the same thing as
the last story. Their experience on this island will be completely
different from the last one, but I don't like how similar these are
starting off. I've also struggled with the opening lines here for whatever
I filled a page with notes today about what I want out of
each chapter. These are mainly plot points, but there is some
character development listed as well. That's the tricky part out of this
kind of story. Most people agree that character-driven stories are much
deeper than plot-driven stories. That is, we focus on the characters and
what they think or feel rather than just focus on a series of events that
happen to the characters. For "Mark of the Jinn," I really like to give a
big helping of both if I can. The stories very much center around our
group of heroes, but there are always extraneous events that affect their
choices and decisions. Most of the notes tonight are things that I've
written before, along with some of the newer tidbits that I've thought of
lately. This is another difficult part of writing this kind of story,
because I know exactly where I want the story to end up. The hard part is
getting the characters to arrive at that ending without it feeling forced
or out-of-character for any of our heroes.
I just realized that we should be starting the actual
pages of "Mark of the Jinn: Prey" soon, and I can't remember if I've
actually written the script for it or not. I know I've worked out most of
the story before. I could always look back through these journal entries,
but there's no need for that. Since I've thought of new story points
lately, any previous version of my story would be useless. Well, that's a
bit harsh. Writing the story a few times is actually quite helpful in
streamlining what I want out of the story arc. But mostly it helps me
solidify some of the concepts floating around loose in my head. Today, I
drew some sketches of elf women to help get me back in the proper mindset.
Also, I spent some time looking at leg tattoo designs on the web, because
I think these tree-dwelling elves would decorate themselves with
henna-style tattoos made from natural dyes. I think I've captured the
right style of body art for these elves, as it is very thin and flowy. The
designs I've drawn a vine-like, but not wrapping around the arm or
I've scanned the art for the six page "Mortem Brand vs
Tengu" story. I also scanned the failed page six that turned into a giant
sketch sheet. I scan the images as color, then convert them to black and
white. As I've mentioned before, I seem to get better quality scans this
way (as opposed to scanning it as black & white from the start). I
changed each page from a "jpg" file to a "tif" format, which will allow
multiple layers in my photoediting program. I also did just the very
smallest of digital work, smudging out all the dates I had written in each
panel. Whenever I finish drawing a panel, I write the date along the edge.
It's easy enough to remove it digitally, and it remains on the physical
art sheets in case I ever wondered what year or day they were
I was going to draw a pin-up style shot of Mortem Brand
and the younger Tengu (from a few days ago). I only drew Mortem Brand, and
left a very hollow-looking sketch where the Tengu should be. It just got
too late, and I couldn't stay awake long enough to draw more than one
I drew a sketch of Mortem Brand without his tendril cape.
He certainly doesn't look the same without it. I love drawin the
snake-like tendrils creeping up over his back, but this capeless look is
good for him, too.
The pencilwork for "Mortem Brand vs Tengu" is done. I
drew the final panel, which is a far shot of the pavillion (similar to the
first panel on page one). This sort of "bookends" the beginning and end of
the story. I struggled to draw this last panel, but it turned out okay.
Overall, this is the best looking page of the story.
Panel 2 on page six is a wide shot, showing Mortem Brand
holding his mask in his hand. Somewhere behind him, the fallen Tengu's
mask lay near a column.
I finished that first panel on page six (Mortem Brand vs
Tengu). The main things I added tonight were the Tengu's left shoulder and
arm, as well as a spray of blood coming from the massive sword wound. The
sword is cutting from his collarbone down to mid-chest, and I wanted to
get the blood right here. I did my best to show the blood spray in
perspective, as it bursts out in every direction radially. I sometimes
like to use a really gritty speckled spray, but here I'm using big
glob-like drops (like thick gel dripping away). I also added shading to
everything tonight, except the blood. I want the blood to just be an
outline here, because I'll likely separate it onto its own layer during
the digital process. That way, I can color it in, while making it
translucent. I was a bit worried that this panel wouldn't hit the mark,
but I'm quite pleased with it :)
I had a lot going on tonight, and knew I wouldn't be able
to finish off that panel from yesterday. Instead, I drew a new version of
a Tengu. This one has a more youthful appearance than the one from the
story I'm drawing. This new Tengu has a full head of hair pulled back in a
low ponytail. He also wears clothing similar to that of feudal Japan (as
opposed to being nearly buck naked like the Tengu from my current story).
This new one carries a "Shakujo" (monk's staff), as the Tengu concept is
sometimes depicted as carrying it. While some Tengu lore shows them as
troublemakers or tricksters, other stories show that Tengus are
protectors. I think I'd like to show this opposing view in a separate
story, and likely involve Mortem Brand again.
I started drawing the real page six today. I
stuck very close to the layout sketch from yesterday, using a slightly
overhead angle. It's turning out really well. It's a big panel, so I
wasn't quite able to finish it. The Tengu takes up most of this large
panel, with the sword sticking out of his chest. we can barely see Mortem
Brand's angry face over the Tengu's shoulder. MB's cloth ponytail-tie
blows dramatically as it does in nearly every panel of this
I attempted to start page six of "Mortem Brand vs.
Tengu," but it just wasn't working out. This is the climactic scene where
MB disposes of his foe. At first, I was going to do a splash page (one
panel covering the whole page), but that's how I ended another webcomic of
mine, "Crusade Dusk." Also, I've thought that I'd like to show the enemy
getting "Voltron'd." That is, being cut in half from top to bottom as seen
in the end of pretty much every episode of the "Voltron" cartoon (which I
absolutely loved throughout my childhood). The panel I drew, though, just
wasn't... cutting it. I drew a completely boring panel showing a medium
shot of this action from an uninteresting camera angle. I used the
remaining part of the page to work out a couple of alternate layouts for
the panel instead. The one I liked is a slightly overhead shot, and the
sword hasn't gone completely through the Tengu. Instead, the sword is
about halfway through the Tengu, and juts out in a way that extends
towards the reader slightly.
Another wide panel, but not as large as the one from
yesterday. Here, Mortem Brand holds his sword, as is a bit hunched over.
We should get the impression that he's ready to strike. Since this panel
is the last on page five, I'm starting to realize that I need to wrap
things up, or this action piece could go on and on. I'd much rather keep
webcomics between 4 and 6 pages, usually. I think I can finish things off
on the next page. Plus, I'm getting a visual in my head for what's going
to happen to the Tengu :)
I've drawn a somewhat large, wide panel that shows the
Tengu pensively stroking his beard as he looks down. Behind him, Mortem
Brand stands with his hand still on his teleporting belt buckle (that
sounds silly, doesn't it?). MB gives a very series look, while the cloth
in his hair blows almost horizontally.
Happy Independence Day! I drew two more small panels,
which are in line with the one from yesterday. In the middle panel here,
we have an extreme close up of Mortem Brand's belt buckle, and his gloved
fingertips touching it. After that, is another small panel almost
identical to the one from yesterday, but with Mortem Brand not in it. I've
added his shadow, as if he still lays in the panel. The candles are in
this panel again, to show where we're looking (and to help the reader
understand that Mortem Brand has disappeared).
I added a small panel to page five today (Mortem Brand vs
Tengu). In this panel, we see MB laying on the ground. The shot is
somewhat from the Tengu's POV, looking down at MB. There are a couple of
candles on the floor nearby, which will serve as a reference point in a
I started the fifth page of "Mortem Brand vs. Tengu."
It's a wide panel, that shows that the Tengu has pulled off Mortem Brand's
cape of tendrils. The Tengu shoves MB to the ground with one hand, and
holds the strange cape in his other hand.
Well, it's been
SIXTY MONTHS now, and I've still done something for my comics every single
day. That's FIVE YEARS. It adds up to over 1800 days in a row that I've
stuck to my goal of doing something every day, and no reason to stop now!
I finished the last panel on page four (Mortem Brand vs. Tengu). I added
the remaining line work for Mortem Brand's body, the loose cape-tendrils
on one side, and the Tengu's left arm. I also did the blended pencil
shading on everything here. The work on shading the Tengu's back didn't
turn out nearly as well as it did in the first panel on this page. Oh
well, he's not really the focus of this panel.
This website as well as all characters and
comics listed therein, copyright 2012 Jay W. Davis / One Shot